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DOWN SINCE DAY ONE

Honoring the shred legacy of five original Jones team riders

Story by Seth Lightcap

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Talent. Motivation. Dedication.

No matter what you want to be in life, these qualities are the foundation of success. Talent can get your foot in the door, but without hard work and perseverance you’ll only go so far.

Becoming a pro snowboarder is no different. Natural balance may help you learn a trick quicker, but only a genuine passion for the sport will push you to keep progressing until your skills are head and shoulders above the rest. Standing out in a sea of rippers is also just the first step. To remain at that level, and forge a lasting career as a snowboarder, there is really only one option.

 

You gotta dedicate your life to snowboarding.

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When Jeremy Jones founded Jones Snowboards in 2010 he assembled the first Jones team with these personal attributes in mind. Jeremy chose to work with riders whose skills were matched by an insatiable appetite for snowboarding. This common denominator among Jones ambassadors remains true to this day. Every rider we’ve ever worked with is “all in” and fully committed to riding, exploring and protecting the mountains we love.

It is an amazing testament to this ethos that five riders from our original 2010 team are still actively riding for us in 2020. These veteran riders are Miikka Hast, Mitch Toelderer, Ryland Bell, Forrest Shearer and Luca Pandolfi. While the complexities of life have influenced their daily relationship with snowboarding, what Jeremy saw in these guys a decade back has not changed. Their passion for snowboarding still burns white hot and they continue to represent their respective regions as shred community leaders.

The accomplishments, stoke and support that Miikka, Mitch, Ryland, Forrest and Luca have contributed to the Jones brand over the last ten years has been immeasurable. In celebration of our tenth anniversary we are excited to share some of their career highlights as a TEN YEARS microsite feature. So kick back and enjoy a trip down memory lane with us, as we honor these five OG team riders with an epic collection of photos and videos.

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With calculated confidence, Miikka is not afraid to go big in the backcountry. 

Photo - Jani Karppa

MIIKKA HAST

You’ll be hard pressed to meet a more humble and talented rider than Miikka Hast. Born and raised in Rovaniemi, a small town in Northern Finland, Miikka Hast grew up riding 120 vertical meter slopes at Ounasvaara, his local resort. Miikka’s talent in the terrain park won him a spot on the Finnish National Team and he competed in World Cup halfpipe and big air events for many years. After almost a decade of launching onto icy landings, Miikka’s eyes drifted away from contests and locked in on the pursuit of powder and backcountry lines.

When we started working with Miikka in 2010 he was already well on his way to becoming one of the most accomplished backcountry riders in Scandinavia. His talent riding bullet proof halfpipe walls translated perfectly to riding variable backcountry conditions and the same motivation that helped him learn new tricks drove him to seek out new terrain. The rowdy, couloir strewn Lyngen Alps of Northern Norway and the powder hallways of Japan became his favorite playgrounds as he pushed his riding to the next level on a splitboard. Watching Miikka drop in on a heavy line is always a thrill as he rides with powerful confidence and superb edge technique. It’s no surprise he was a world class halfpipe rider.

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Miikka dives neck deep in Niigata, Japan

Happily raising a one year old son and a 5 year old daughter, Miikka has a little less time to snowboard these days, but he still rips Ounasvaara on the regular, and has been filming in Norway with Antti Autti for his upcoming film, ROAM.

Miikka charges into the Cauliflower Face in Tamok, Norway. 

Photo -  Jonas Hagström

“Splitboarding opened up a whole new world for me. It’s the most immersive way to enjoy the mountains and I love using muscle power to get where I want to ride. And the more I learn about exploring the mountains, the more I discover that I am actually only scratching the surface. There is so much to see and when conditions line up perfectly on a new line there is nothing better. These moments of discovery are moments to live for.”

Miikka Hast

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In 2017 we awarded Miikka our annual Jones Team Adventure Grant to support a pioneering trip to a remote fjord in the Arctic Circle of Northern Norway. After battling mixed weather for weeks, Miikka successfully rode a first descent of this gorgeous couloir. His expedition was documented in When Calls The Adventure, a film produced by Kota Collective, the Finnish production company he is part of. Photo and video by Matti Ollila / Kota Collective.

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Some of Miikka’s boldest backcountry lines have gone down with his long time riding partner Antti Autti. He’s been featured in several of Antti’s film projects including the 2017 Kota Collective release, Approach & Attack.

Miikka was also featured in two other signature video series, Stories From Here To There, by Protest Sportswear and a Discover Splitboarding series with EpicTV

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MITCH TOELDERER

You know those riders that make the sketchiest lines look like a casual walk in the park? That’s Mitch Toelderer. From FURTHER to the Freeride World Tour, Mitch is a master at making a gnarly line look silky smooth. Born in Salzburg, Austria, Mitch grew up ski racing before crossing over to snowboarding in 1987 at age 12. As a teenage shredder he competed in every snowboard discipline imaginable from amateur halfpipe comps to the ISF Pro Boardercross Tour. By 2000, he had turned his attention to freeriding and in 2001 he won the infamous Verbier Xtreme contest. Riding his success in Verbier he went on to compete on the Freeride World Tour for the next decade, placing second on the tour in 2010 and winning the world title in 2011.

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As Mitch’s competitive career wound down he turned his attention to splitboarding and filming. He produced the splitboard focused Hike Series in 2011 and was featured in Jeremy Jones’ FURTHER and Warren Miller’s Flow State in 2012. The common thread running through both Mitch’s contest and film lines is his foot-on-the-gas, no-holds-barred approach to charging down a mountain. Mitch always rides fast and fluid.

Where no man has gone before, Mitch threads a line in the Karwendel Range. Photo - Jeremy Jones

Though he’s got more “real life” responsibilities than ever these days, Mitch still chases year-round adventures same as ever. He lives in Innsbruck at the bottom of the Nordkette cable car with his daughter Lilith and wife Bibi Pekarek, who is also a frothing freerider and long time Jones ambassador. When he’s not ripping blower pow or barrelling waves, he works as a doctor. Yes, you heard that right. Somehow, amidst a lifetime of snowboarding and surfing, Mitch studied to become an emergency and sports medicine doctor.

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Mitch dances with his sluff in an extremely remote region of Kyrgyzstan.

Photo - White Room Productions

“I’ve been riding for over 30 years and what still drives me today is the endless potential to explore and ride wild lines in the backcountry. My splitboard has been the key to unlock this door and when I started splitting it totally changed my perspective on the mountains. I love sharing backcountry adventures with friends and the freedom to discover untouched lines weeks after the last snowfall.”

Mitch Toelderer

Having met on the contest circuit, Mitch has been friends with Jeremy Jones for a couple decades. He was one of the first riders Jeremy asked to join the Jones team in 2010. They linked up for their first splitboard expedition together in 2012, touring into the Karwendel Range in the Austrian Alps. Mitch, Jeremy and Mitch’s wife Bibi fought through bitter cold temps to climb and ride some heavy lines that were featured in Teton Gravity Research’s FURTHER.

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In 2015 we awarded Mitch our annual Jones Team Adventure Grant to support an expedition to the Albanian Alps. Mitch returned with a handful of first descents and an award winning adventure film by Whiteroom Productions called When The Mountains Were Wild.

Mitch has never lacked motivation to explore off the beaten path and document his adventures along the way. His 2011 film, HIKE2RIDE was among the first splitboard films produced in Europe.

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Ryland laces a line on Rainbow Peak high above Haines, AK.

Photo - Jeff Curley

RYLAND BELL

Ryland Bell’s riding style is just like his home state of Alaska - big, bold and proud. Whether he’s ripping down KT-22 or a steep AK spine line, Ryland charges lines with confident authority and is always on the lookout for natural freestyle features. Ryland grew up in a commercial fishing family and spent his summers in Southeastern Alaska and his winters in Fairbanks and Juneau. He started snowboarding at age 12 and quickly realized it was his biggest passion in life. When Ryland graduated from high school he moved to Lake Tahoe on the advice of Standard Film’s founder Dave Hatchett, who he had met in Alaska. Ryland has returned to Lake Tahoe every winter since, chalking up year after year of 100+ day seasons riding Squaw Valley.

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Ryland rips into a steep panel filming in Alaska for a recent Warren Miller film. Photo - Tom Day

Ryland met Jeremy Jones his first season in Tahoe at Squaw. Jeremy started flowing Ryland boards, first from Rossignol and then straight away from Jones Snowboards once he founded the company in 2010. When Jeremy started shooting DEEPER, his first signature film project, Ryland was one of his primary riding partners and was featured in multiple segments including the legendary AK Spine Institute segment. Ryland went on to accompany Jeremy on his annual AK expedition for the next several years and landed feature roles in both Jeremy’s next two films, FURTHER and HIGHER.

Ryland in his element in the Fairweather Range, AK.

Photo - Jeff Curley

In recent years, Ryland has expanded his shred horizons well beyond Tahoe and Alaska. He’s been on the hunt for exotic spine lines in Canada, Japan and Russia. He’s also continued to film, shooting segments for both Absinthe and Warren Miller. In the summers, Ryland returns to his roots, captaining his own commercial fishing boat in Southeast Alaska.

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Ryland loves to ride spines and he's set up his life to make it happen. Every spring he returns to his house in Haines, AK to hunt spine lines before fishing season begins.

Photo - Tom Day

“My favorite thing about snowboarding is the incredible feelings of pure freedom I experience. I’ve learned so much from snowboarding. I’ve been the most scared and experienced the highest highs of my life on my board. Snowboarding has also become something more, it’s become a never ending quest to find the perfect spine lines that push my riding to its limits.”

Ryland Bell

Ryland’s dual life as a pro snowboarder in the winter and a commercial fisherman in the summer offers him a rare perspective on the cycle of water and life in Alaska. Patagonia and Teton Gravity Research told his unique story in the 2015 short film, Wild Alaska.

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Ryland has been Jeremy Jones’ go-to AK partner since Jeremy’s very first human powered Alaska expedition in 2009. Riding trophy lines right alongside him, Ryland was featured in all three of Jeremy’s signature DEEPER, FURTHER, HIGHER film trilogy.

Since 2016, Ryland has self-produced a season edit highlighting his best lines that season. The edits showcase his hard charging style exactly as he sees it.

Shot in Haines, Alaska with Seaba Heli, Ryland’s 2019 season edit includes shots featured in Absinthe Film’s 2019 release Isle Of Snow.

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Effortless surf style is second nature to Forrest.

Photo - Andrew Miller

FORREST SHEARER

Born and raised in the waves of Southern California, Forrest Shearer is a quintessential surf shredder. When you see him snowboard, it’s clear that his cruisy but powerful style comes from years in the water and decades in the mountains. Forrest also draws from a seemingly bottomless well of stoke for snowboarding and sideways sliding of any form. Whether snow, surf or skate, Forrest loves to ride and his unwavering dedication to the “glide” has helped him carve out a career in action sports for the better part of two decades.

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Forrest loves to match a track to a terrain feature. Here he takes the high lines at Mt. Batchelor. Photo - Andrew Miller

After growing up in Dana Point, California, Forrest moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and dove head first into the Wasatch snowboard scene. Forrest’s equally impressive freestyle and freeride skills helped him land sponsors like Rossignol, who was also sponsoring Jeremy Jones at the time. When Jeremy founded Jones Snowboards he immediately cherry picked Forrest from Rossignol, knowing his natural talent and eternally friendly attitude. Forrest instantly took to splitboarding and quickly became one of the Wastach’s most accomplished backcountry riders, before turning his sights and skills internationally in the pursuit of exploring the world on his snowboard. Throughout these shred-ventures, Forrest has always been a prolific media maker, racking up dozens of photos in the mags and feature parts in films by Teton Gravity Research, Absinthe Films and Sweetgrass Films.

Always curious what terrain lies around the corner, Forrest loves to earn his turns. Photo - Andrew Miller

In recent years, Forrest has also stepped up as one of snowboarding’s leading environmental activists. He’s an athlete ambassador for Protect Our Winters and the Winter Wildlands Alliance helping raise awareness on climate change and the preservation of wilderness and public lands. Forrest’s positivity continues to know no bounds and his appetite for shredding shows no signs of slowing down.

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Riding on the roof of North America, Forrest rips into Denali’s Sunshine Face.

Photo - Clark Henarie

“I snowboard for the moments when you combine your own energy with the energy of whatever it is your riding - your home resort, the park, or the backcountry. When you’re in that moment, nothing else matters. Snowboarding is also my greatest form of self expression. Anything is possible in the mountains, there's always a fresh canvas to ride and no one way you have to ride it. You can get creative, interpret the terrain in your own way and just have fun with whatever the mountain has to offer.”

Forrest Shearer

In 2016 Forrest teamed up with filmer Nick Kalisz and photographer Andrew Miller to create a three-part snow/surf video series called Horizon Lines. The series followed Forrest and friends as they travelled to Iceland, Japan and Chile in search of adventure and the perfect turn.

In 2019, we awarded Forrest our Jones Team Adventure Grant to support a trip to Denali with a stacked crew of shredders including Jones riders Harry Kearney and Nick Russell plus pro surfer Ian Walsh. The expedition was an unbelievable success as everyone summited and a few first snowboard descents even went down. ROAM media captured their adventure in their recent film, THE BIG ONE.

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While winter 2020 was not very productive for most pro riders, Forrest Shearer came out swinging with two stand out videos including a new episode of Jones Presents about snowboarding in Chile and a powder porn edit from his old Wasatch stomping grounds.

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Luca lights up a turn under the cables of the Hellbroner, his favorite freeride face in the Alps.

LUCA PANDOLFI

Standing tall, with a smile as big as the boards he rides, Luca Pandolfi is one of the most passionate freeriders you’ll ever meet. He’s a native Italian from the Piedmont region, but he’s lived in Chamonix for the last decade and his riding style mirrors his background. Luca puts his heart and soul into his snowboarding, yet he’s a cutting edge alpinist who chases untracked trophy lines and first descents all over the world. When he drops in there’s no mistaking his motivation, he loves to ride fast and rip big turns in big terrain.

Luca learned to snowboard at age 18 and quickly decided to move to the mountains and dedicate his life to the sport. After a few winters in Verbier and Gressoney, he settled in Chamonix having been blown away by the terrain accessible from town. Putting his nerves and skills to the test riding rowdy lines on the Mont Blanc Massif, Luca established himself as a confident and talented freerider. Jeremy Jones caught wind of Luca’s talents through an Italian media connection and welcomed him to the team in 2010 as one of the Jones’ first European team riders.

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Always up for an adventure, Luca explored the Peruvian Andes in 2015.

Photo - Matteo Calcamuggi

Luca loves to travel and is no stranger to international expeditions having led pioneering snowboard trips to Pakistan, Peru, Georgia and Iran. Luca also accompanied Jeremy Jones on his 2013 HIGHER expedition to Nepal. Hiking seven days to basecamp at the base of a glacier, the pair set out to ride a high elevation Himilayan spine wall.

Luca on an adventure of a lifetime filming for HIGHER in Nepal. Photo - Andrew Miller

In recent years, Luca has taken up snowboard guiding and instruction. He helps aspiring riders learn everything from basic freestyle skills to how to safely navigate complex backcountry terrain. He also guides a trip to the Caucus Mountains of Georgia each season for a lucky group or two of splitboarders.

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For both Luca and Jeremy, their 2013 Shangri-la expedition to Nepal was one of the highlights of their lives, let alone their snowboard careers. The expedition was featured as the closing segment of HIGHER, the final chapter of Jeremy Jones’ film trilogy.

“I started off as a freestyler snowboarder but I quickly realized the magic of freeriding and exploring the backcountry. I especially love riding steep terrain because I enjoy the mental tension that comes with exposure. Riding steeps forces me to focus my concentration and make my mind, body and snowboard a fusion of pure action.”

Luca Pandolfi

Below: A magical moment in the mountains high above Luca’s home in the Chamonix Valley.

Photo - Seth Lightcap

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